While rehabilitating from his serious ankle injury Paul Ifill set his Wellington Phoenix team-mates a challenge: “Get us into the finals and give me a chance to play again this season.”
The team rose to the challenge and, as was the case last season, mounted a late run that saw them finish sixth, six points ahead of seventh-placed Newcastle Jets.
On Tuesday Ifill came through a training session with no problems and will be on the plane when the squad leaves Wellington on Wednesday afternoon.
“At times it didn-t seem as if it was going to happen [making the finals], on both fronts, but the team made it and I-m delighted to have made it as well.
“I felt good at training. I-m lacking a little strength wise but have been working hard in the gym and it has paid off.
“Now it is a confidence thing. The specialist says there is nothing wrong structurally so I am happy on that front.”
Another boost for the Phoenix is midfielder Vince Lia coming back into the squad after missing the games against Sydney FC and North Queensland Fury through picking up a hamstring strain early in the game against Adelaide which the Phoenix won 1-0.
Captain Andrew Durante also returns from a two-match suspension to give coach Ricki Herbert a selection dilemma in the centre of defence where Ben Sigmund and Jade North played well against Fury on Sunday.
The squad is: Danny Vukovic, Troy Hearfield, Andrew Durante, Ben Sigmund, Jade North, Tony Lochhead, Tim Brown, Manny Muscat, Vince Lia, Nicky Ward, Marco Rojas, Chris Greenacre, Dylan Macallister, Daniel, Paul Ifill, Reece Crowther.